South Africa Court Orders Ex-President Zuma’s Return to Jail
A South African court ordered former President Jacob Zuma be returned to prison, after ruling that the medical parole he was granted in September was unlawful. The rand weakened.
The High Court in Pretoria ordered that Zuma, 79, “be returned to the custody of the Department of Correctional Services” to serve out the remainder of his 15-month sentence. The prisons authority said it’s studying the judgment.
Zuma’s imprisonment in July was the catalyst for the worst civil unrest in South Africa since the country’s first non-racial elections in 1994. The violence left at least 354 people dead, shuttered thousands of businesses and led President Cyril Ramaphosa to overhaul the management of the security forces, after saying they were ill-prepared to deal with the unrest.
The rand fell as much as 0.7% after the judgment and traded 0.6% weaker at 16.1816 to the dollar by 12:28 p.m. in Johannesburg.
“The security services will hopefully be alive to the risks this time around and be better prepared to respond more swiftly to any potential trouble,” Oxford Economics Africa Ltd. analyst Louw Nel said in a research note.
Zuma, who was convicted of contempt of court earlier this year, was granted medical parole after serving less than two months in jail. The Helen Suzman Foundation, a South African advocacy group, challenged the decision.
The court ruled that the decision taken by prisons boss Arthur Fraser to release Zuma was illegal and that the time Zuma has spent on parole won’t count as time served. Fraser is a close ally of Zuma, who appointed him as the nation’s top spy during his presidency.
Zuma’s arrest came months before municipal elections in November in which the ruling African National Congress registered its worst performance since coming to power in 1994, with support for the party dropping below 50% for the first time. The ANC said at the time that Zuma’s arrest may have been a contributing factor to its poor performance.
Wednesday’s ruling may be appealed by the prisons authority and Zuma himself, though neither have indicated whether they plan to do so.
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